While Tuonela Magazine didn’t attend Metal Capital Festival officially this year, some of us happened to still be in attendance. Taking place at Äimäraution Rävirata in Oulu during June 17th and 18th, we got a good view of the festival from up close and personal, and considering the festival debuted for the first time this year, it seemed worthwhile to give a few afterthoughts on what the experience was like.
Can we address the elephant in the room right away? In this picture right above this paragraph? Calling a debuting festival in a mid-sized Finnish town “Finland’s Biggest Metal Festival” is an outright lie. What’s more interesting is that we heard rumors around the festival, that this was also a legitimate promise made to some bands, that this was Finland’s biggest metal festival, with an expected 25,000 visitors per day. It’s hard to believe, the way everything was set up, that this was a reasonable expectation, as the 2500-3000 guests that actually showed up per day seemed to be right about what the organizers had planned for.
Now, that strange declaration aside, what was the rest of the festival like? Well, the band selection was certainly interesting, with MESHUGGAH, AMARANTHE, and KREATOR among the biggest names of the weekend. What’s also interesting was the names the festival boasted on the smaller indoor stage, such as ETHEREAL SIN, who came all the way from Japan to put on a shockingly great show. Lots of popular touring bands hit up the festival this summer, with a lot of hot new acts getting their chance as well, such as one of our favorites, SILVER BULLET.
It was also nice that they had an indoor building to use, so if you were lucky or early, you’d get to use a good toilet, there was some indoor dining opportunities – a bonus as it rained quite a lot on the second day – and VIP tickets got you access to a grandstand. The festival area was okay – the two mainstages were right next to one another so one band could set up while the other was playing, with the third stage being inside near one of the bars.
Now here’s where things started to fall apart a bit. First of all, the city of Oulu shouldn’t have used a horse track for a music festival, as there was really just no way to set it up that the horses weren’t getting agitated by the sound levels. Secondly, there seemed to be some severe issues with the company providing stages. There were a few different versions of what the story was, but the most common one was that the company began their set-up 2 days later than promised and completely failed to deliver their third stage. Whether or not this tale is true (as it’s not the only version of the story we heard), we can attest that some bands and attendees were quite disappointed to have been promised an outdoor tent stage, only to be given a far smaller and hastily patched together indoor stage. The setup of the tents was also very poor, as one could clearly see by the end of the first day that the mainstage was badly tilted – which could have been potentially hazardous to the artists with pyrotechnics, for example.
Next up, the food options were quite few and far between. Yes, there was some nicer black dining for VIPs, but the food options ranged from tasty but too spicy for just anyone (such as chili fries or Asian noodles), lazy, bland, and overpriced (like the Kauppuri5 burger that was as dry as it was disappointing with only pulled pork, bacon, and a small splash of BBQ sauce on a dry bun; this was possibly the weekend’s biggest disappointment as they are one of Oulu’s most legendary restaurants), to outright bad-tasting (the batter on the cauliflower wings was nigh inedible). It was also extremely bothersome to have a place called “pizzeria” that didn’t serve pizza. The option for anything a bit lighter might have been nice, or something fresh. Or even just a normal burger? Otherwise, there was a reasonable selection of alcoholic beverages and stalls with shots, but there weren’t any options if you didn’t want booze. And while we’re on the topic, the festival seemed to make no effort to be eco-friendly, as the number and location of garbage bins was few and far between, and it was even harder to find a place to throw out your cans. Meanwhile, the random titty bar pop-up was mostly selling cheap garbage and sex toys, so we’d hope to see more sex toys and less plastic junk in the future.
While this venue was generally a poor choice, the setup wasn’t bad, but for a long stretch between the entrance and the stages, where there was all of the space in the world to have had more food stalls or vendors, but there was simply nothing but a liquorice shop and an ice cream stall (who was very friendly and probably sadly didn’t get much business in the rain on Saturday). The main attraction was the fairly reasonable affordable helicopter ride. One could shell out 60€ to get a 5ish-minute flight around Oulu with some fancy landing as it peeled back in. This is a way cooler attraction than the 90€ bungee jump we’ve seen elsewhere, but the problem was that they shoved it right behind the merch stand, so it was really impossible to chat with the Enslain team about which shirts were available because the helicopter was taking off and landing all the time. It also blew the tent like a tornado and filled all the merch with dust and dirt.
The Saunamaalima (sauna world) was also a nice area, especially considering the rain and cold on the second day, though we wondered at the safety of saunas and people drinking heavily, as falling on a kiuas is dangerous business, and we saw at least one ambulance over there (for reasons unknown) during the weekend.
Overall, the number and quality of the bands during this festival was surely enough to please attendees, but the overall organization still needs a lot of work. Hopefully, if they decide to continue in the future, they’ll get their plan down pact at a better venue before promising a festival that there’s no way they could deliver on.